Howto: Install a frontend on your Server with NX

This howto will explain to you how to install a frontend on your server which is accessible via NX. This tutorial is for Debian based systems, and has been tested on an FlexServ (RPS).

1. Check the basic Debian setup.

We need to modify the sources.list

vi /etc/apt/sources.list

Add the following 2 lines:

deb etch main contrib non-free
deb-src etch main contrib non-free

Close and save (:wq) and run this command to update:

apt-get update

Then check if your system is up to date, and if necessary install updates.

apt-get dist-upgrade

2. Installing the X window manager xorg.

Just type in:

apt-get install xserver-xorg-core xorg

There will be a few questions at the end, for now just go with the defaults.

3. The Login Manager

Now you have 3 options. You can install any of the following Login Manager’s. Your options are:

  1. KDM
    KDM is probably the best if you want to use KDE
  2. GDM
    GDM is probably the best if you want to use Gnome
  3. XDM
    XDM is probably the best if you want to use Fluxbox or XFCE

Once you have chosen one of the GUIs run one of the following three commands:

apt-get install kdm
apt-get install gdm
apt-get install xdm

4. The GUI

Now again, you have a choice of different Graphical User Interfaces.

  1. KDE
    Personally my favourite on Debian
  2. Gnome
    My favourite on Ubuntu
  3. Fluxbox
    Never used it
  4. XFCE4
    Never used it

Once you have chosen one of the GUIs run one of the following three commands:

apt-get install kde
apt-get install gnome
apt-get install xfce4
apt-get install fluxbox

Thats all for the base setup.

5. Reboot

You should reboot to make sure the X server starts.

shutdown -r now

6. Create your user

Once your server has rebooted, and you have relogged in, you should create a user which you will use for the GUI.

adduser mynewusername

6. Getting the NX packages

Now we need to setup the NX server, so that you are able to connect to the server from your home. So you need to download the NX server pacakges:


7. Installing the NX packages

As you have the packages now in your directory, you need to install them via dpkg.

dpkg -i nxclient_3.1.0-2_i386.deb
dpkg -i nxnode_3.1.0-3_i386.deb
dpkg -i nxserver_3.1.0-2_i386.deb

8. The Services

Now we need to make sure the services are running.

/etc/init.d/ssh restart
/etc/init.d/nxserver restart

9. The Browser

Last, but not least… well actually least … Firefox! You will need a nice Browser, so Firefox is the way to go.

apt-get install firefox

Now you’re system is setup and you’re ready to use it. Simply setup your NX Client and have fun!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me or just leave a comment.

15 Comments, RSS

  1. Daniel 31. December, 2007 @ 3:38 pm

    Hi Florian,

    sehr gute Anleitung, hat bei mir mit einem OVH-Server mit Debian4 (OVH Kernel) sofort geklappt.

    Vielen Dank


  2. B3rt 31. December, 2007 @ 4:00 pm

    Merci pour l’EXCELLENT tuto !

  3. Centro 1. January, 2008 @ 4:40 pm

    Hi Flo,

    Thanks für das HowTO!

    Habs auf nem S4Y V-Server getestet welcher den KDE sehr leicht verkraftet!

    Greetz Centro

  4. Fabien 1. January, 2008 @ 7:10 pm

    Sympa ton tutoriel. Je viens de tester sur un RPS, effectivement ça tourne vraiment bien, c’est assez bluffant 🙂

  5. Brett 11. January, 2008 @ 7:41 pm

    Do note that there is a dependency for NXClient: libaudiofile0. So if you can’t install it, just do:

    apt-get install libaudiofile0

    Then run the dpkg -i *nxclient-package* command and it will work.

    Good tutorial, works like a charm 😉

  6. razt0r 10. May, 2008 @ 11:00 pm

    hallo, hab das mal mit vmware getestet (ubuntu serverinstallation) und hat sofort geklappt =)


  7. davidb 11. February, 2009 @ 7:03 pm


    I have tested this tutorial with a VPS from,and it worked very well 🙂

    one word – amazing

  8. D3LER 4. April, 2009 @ 1:31 am

    Super Anleitung!

    habs diirekt beim ersten Versuch auch als “Linux-Neuling” ohne Probleme eingerichtet bekommen.

    Danke dafür. :o)

  9. Bastii 8. May, 2009 @ 9:08 am

    Hallo nab das ganze getestet und habe mir jetzt die Frage gestellt ob ich auf dem Server wirklich ein X (KDE, Gnome, etc.) istallieren muss.
    Ich will den X-Desktop doch nicht auf dem Localen Rechner anzeigen?

    Kann mir da jemand helfen?

  10. Florian Jensen 8. May, 2009 @ 9:47 am

    Ich verstehe deine Frage irgendwie nicht. Die idee ist doch gerade X zu installieren?

  11. flava 25. November, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

    Danke für´s tutorial 🙂

    Hab ne frage: wieso kann ich auf gnome nicht das obere menü anklicken, Anwendungen z.B. ?

    Benutze Debian 5 64bit auf ovh (isgenug) und die 3.4.0-versionen statt die o.g. Versionen…

    Danke schonmal !

  12. Florian Jensen 5. December, 2009 @ 6:23 pm

    Komisch. Das problem hatte ich nicht. Vielleicht dein NX client?

  13. Sebastian 27. December, 2009 @ 6:56 pm

    danke für das Tutorial. Sehr verständlich geschrieben.
    Weiter so 🙂

    Ich hab nur leider das selbe Problem, wie flava.

    danke für ne Antwort.

  14. Juba 24. January, 2010 @ 11:07 pm

    Habe meinen Vserver nach deiner anleitung eingestellt habe alles via putty eingegeben doch ich komme einfach nicht rein mit einem NX-Client kommt immer der gleiche fehler “NX Service is not available” kennst du den fehler?.

    MfG Juba

  15. aron j 4. February, 2011 @ 8:35 pm

    123:~# apt-get install firefox
    Reading package lists… Done
    Building dependency tree
    Reading state information… Done
    Package firefox is not available, but is referred to by another package.
    This may mean that the package is missing, has been obsoleted, or
    is only available from another source
    However the following packages replace it:
    E: Package firefox has no installation candidate

    Can anyone help as this is the error i get when i try to install firefox on my debian! 🙁
    any help is much appreciated.

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